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3 month recovery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:22 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm having a L-5/S-1 disc fusion on September 5th. My neurosurgeon is very respected/successful in the area of the state that I live in. I also have a great deal of confidence in him. He feels that I can return to duty (I'm a career firefighter - 49 yrs old, in good physical shape - except the lower back of course)in 3 months.

While I know that this expectation isn't typical, I was wondering if it is obtainable. Another firefighter on my department had a L-4/L-5 L-5/S-1 fusion and he was out walking 5 miles a day within 2 weeks of the surgery and he's feeling great.

I've been off duty for 6 months at this point, and I'm chomping at the bit to get back to work. Thanks in advance for your responses.


  • sure about the recovery time because everyone is different and therefore heals differently....however I atleat wanted to pop in and welcome you to the forum. You will find a lot of support from the amazing members that we have here. Please do keep us posted as to how you are doing....and if there is ever anything that I can help you with then just let me know. Take care...Miki
  • Hi ,I'm 52 male in decent shape worked out enough to stay fit or burn the beer off ! (No Arnold but used Gyms since leaving army in 70's) within reason weight/ height ratio .Lots of walking and lifting on jobsites . Most Fire F are in better shape due to responsibilities so you should do better .My story so far is positive !I found Nj's majic man (Doc) I got Cut on 7/28/08 (Waking up was like getting shot then it got better fast )my guy hopes to have me back in a mechanical rm in 2 mts doing readings .three mts light mechanical . After 5th day from surgery no meds taken . walking 5 miles a day or better now no pain at all .I can feel the stuff in mt back but dosen't hirt have to be extra careful I'm told as (no turning twisting or lifting) Everything now sits on fusion taking ! As soon as I get that confirmed I 'll get pt insructions . So its possible ! The right guy can do wonders . My advantage is I can run controls and drop the mech. end of my job for 8 mts. I hope that time will let the fusion set up good. Then I'll get back to heavy mechanical wk. hope this gives you support. I have time on my hands I never had before ,so I've been reading post and asking questions .You'll learn more here than anywhere else I have ! Good luck seamoose
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  • I know that starting out in good physical shape can make a HUGE difference in your recovery. That and having a really good dr. ;)

    Yes, we all walk a lot, as much as possible really, 2 miles, 5 miles etc., as soon as possible after surgery. It's just the bending, twisting and lifting (BLT) that are not allowed until you've got a good solid fusion.

    I'm no doctor, but if your surgery goes well, if your healing goes well, you really might be able to return at 3 mo. to light duty. Like Seamoose said, it's probably best to wait until you've got a good solid fusion before doing any mechanical or any BLT.

  • We don't have light duty at my department. So, when I return, it will have to be at full duty. This means being able to do everything that is expected of a firefighter. The gear with airpack alone weighs 45 pounds. If I have my brother firefights cover for me until January, and then load up January with new vacation time, I can probably extend my time off until February at the most. I may think about that.

    I'm desperate to go back to work, but the more I'm reading on letting my fusion completely take, the more I'm inclined to try and stay away for a couple more months. The maximum I can extend it to would be 5 months post op.
  • is pushing it. Your back wont be ready to lift that much weight on it by then trust me. you can ask anyone here. The fusion wont be solid at that point. It can take up to a good two years to get yourself back to normal. Three months is definatly too soon and if you go back by then youll just end up with another surgery. Sorry Mac.

    Best Wishes,
    Christina :)
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  • I am only beginning my 4th week post-op and I walk our zoo every couple of days,

    I do it very slowly and take photos to distract me from the time and moderate pain; the big thing is that I do it.

    You need to listen to your body VERY carefully and do as much as you can until it (your body) yells at you to stop.

    I wish you the best of wishes and encourage you to work hard and listen carefully....

    Best wishes
  • I am a firefighter/paramedic as well and I have to have back surgery. I have several back related issues I will list them below. HNP @ T11-L2, HNP L5-S1, DDD L3-L4 and L5-S1. There is talk also of a fusion. I am not sure how long I will be off, but I am told if I only take care of the very low back herniation without fusion it could be 3 months with limited duty before being able to go back on full duty. If I have a fusion I think that 6 months is realistic when talking about going back to the possibility of full duty. I know that you say that you don't have that much time, but you have to remember to watch yourself with this. Not taking away from other jobs, but we as firefighters need our back for lifting equipment, patients, and twisting and turning in places most people wouldn't. I know that time is a concern. Do you all have sick leave? Can people donate their sick time to you? Our department has a transfer policy. I already have 5+ months being transfered to me. I am just wondering if you might have something like that for yourself. I know it is hard to ask people for it, but the brother and sisterhood shown from people donating is something i won't ever forget. Just my thoughts. Best of luck. Dave S.
  • Thanks for the input - Dave, unfortunately, we do not have the ability to transfer sick time. My brothers are doing a trade time with me for the end of November/December. I will be able to plug in more vacation days in January. Not only that, but I will have been off for 12 months in February. So, either I get back to work in February at the latest, or I take FMLA. If I go that route, FMLA only lasts for 12 weeks. And, during that time, I receive no pay, and yet have to pay for my insurance premiums, or they go away too.

    So I'm looking at HAVING to be back on duty no more than 5 months after the surgery. The thing that ticks me off the most, is that this was an on the job injury. I fell down a flight of stairs backwards and headfirst while fighting a fire. But, due to the clown doctor the city sent me to for a 2nd opinion, Workers Comp says that I can return to duty, and they stopped my TTD pay. Nevermind that I saw this doctor for 40 minutes, compared to my doctor, a neurosurgeon and pain specialist, who say that I need surgery (and have seen me for the past 7 months). It's discouraging. I'm currently a Captain and I'll have 18 years on the department this November. Sometimes life isn't fair.
  • Is that the truth. Was this doctor a spinal specialist? Did they even see what your doctors said or are saying? If it is an on-duty injury then they need to work with you on this more than they are. Is there any way for you to fight that doctors opinion by seeing another doctor? I know how city doctors work...make big $$$$$$$ to get people backto work even if they shouldn't be working. I hope that things work out for you, but don't give up there has to be a way for you to get done what needs to be and fight what the city doctor has said. My thoughts and prayer are with you. Be Safe!!
  • Thanks. I have an attorney, and yes we are fighting it. I'm going to have to have the surgery regardless of the way things turn out with workers comp. I'm trying to keep a positive attitude about this, but it's tough. I'll keep you posted on my journey.
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